Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Oh, now she's a skeptic

I'm with Yglesias on this nonsense from Dianne Feinstein regarding Leon Panetta's nomination to head the CIA,

Not to be mean about this, but I wish Sens Feinstein and Rockefeller had shown such concern about pushing back against the executive branch on intelligence matters back when, as members of the Intelligence Committee, both decided to back the invasion of Iraq rather than doing their jobs and calling attention to the problems with the intelligence the administration was presenting. Somehow other members of the SSIC like Dick Durbin and Carl Levin managed to figure out what was going on.

Feinstein's service on the Senate Intel Committee has been a disaster. I really don't care if she got her feelings hurt or if she has legitimate concerns about Panetta's fitness for office. Dianne Feinstein has proven herself to be incompetent in matters of intelligence. Fortunately though for Feinstein there's almost no accountability when it comes to Chairmanships. In a just world she wouldn't be the Chair of the Select Intelligence Committee.

Kudos to Obama for reaching outside the horribly tainted world of the intelligence community to tap Panetta. As Rachel Maddow has stated, elections have consequences and if you have intelligence service to the Bush administration on your resume you shouldn't be getting a promotion. In fact you should probably be getting a subpoena, but that's another blog post I suppose.

1 comment:

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Notably, a very substantial proportion of intelligence operatives, up through the middle management types who are soaring up the ranks, are now very green, and hence may not be a wed to agency tradition. CIA hiring post-9-11 makes up a large majority of current CIA employees; moreover the current wave of employees is really the first since the agency's founding that has a post-war orientation that probably leaves a divide between them and the Cold War oriented old guard.

Panetta is, of course, hardly a young buck, but if he chooses to pit the old guard Cold Warriors against the terrorism oriented younger employees, he could overcome the prejudice that outsider civilian appointees have faced.

This is still a dangerous strategy. The "young" CIA developed a lawless institutional culture under Bush with the most boundary pushing operatives promoted most highly. Panneta will have to balance the need to put relatively "clean" agents in positions of power against the risk of creating problems by upsetting the existing hierarchy of the agency effectively demoting those who rose under Bush (in part also due to competence as well as attitude).